My work is a connection between nature, textile, and culture. It combines my own worlds—the rich landscape that surrounds me on the mountains of West Galilee in Israel, my expertise in the textile industry and textiles, and my Hungarian descent. This nature-textile-culture composition isn’t a trivial one. It can even be confusing. And yet, it generates a sense of awe and enables contemplation and observation of an object—the leaf. An object that, while abundant in nature, is reincarnated by connecting it to other materials. I am interested in expressing my experience and expertise in the textile industry and to combine them with materials that are not quite conventional in this industry. I have created something new that may not necessarily make sense to the spectator, but at the same time, it is three-dimensional, aesthetic, and tactile that calls for touching it. I want to inspire and honor the time to observe. To put nature on center stage and give it our full attention, embrace it and remind ourselves that every created object is unique and has a special place on this earth.
The inspiration to my work is my Gypsy heritage as a Jew of Hungarian descent. My grandmother, a Holocaust survivor, introduced me to the world of textile and embroidery when I was a young girl. She exposed me to the color richness and to different materials and we used to embroider, knit and sew together.
I gather the leaves from around the world and from my close environment—the West Galilee mountains on the northern border of Israel. This area overlooks vast green pastures, all the way to the deep blue Mediterranean Sea. Each leaf is thoroughly washed and dried. The next stage is matching the colors, beads, thread types and selecting the connection method -sewing, embroidery, knitting, or interweaving. The type of needle is also carefully selected to achieve the perfect balance between material types and the fragile leaf. After the planning phase, comes the actual implementation phase when the leaf is connected to the different materials. The ornamented leaf comes in two variations: 1. The leaf itself, framed in a tailor-made frame 2. A large scale, high-resolution photograph of the ornamented leaf. This represents the leaf out of its context, in a grand and surreal appearance. The ornamented leaf enables the viewer to make a powerful connection between the familiar with cultural history. The individual leaf, selected from so many, becomes immortal and invites the spectator to observe the special place that every object takes on earth.
Yael Sapir is an international artist from a heritage tied to the diaspora. Her maternal grandmother taught her ways to carry on moments of The Holocaust.